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This impressive han-tsutsu Shino chawan was made by the late 13th generation Mino potter Kato Seizo (1930-1979, Kagekiyo). Kato’s works are well-regarded throughout Japan and he has won a number of honors and awards over the course of his career as an artist. Not surprisingly, he is equally appreciated abroad and by foreign experts of Japanese pottery. Robert Yellin wrote of Kato: "Kato was one of the finest Mino potters after the first generation of Showa greats, such as Kato Tokuro and Arakawa Toyozo … Kato, and his young-superstar son Yasukage, have some of the strongest kodai and rich Shino glazes in all of Mino."
This piece is 4.9 inches in diameter (12.5cm) and stands 3.5 inches tall (9cm). It bears the artist’s signature and comes with a signed tomobako. Inside can be found a paper inscribed by a monk from Kyoto’s Nanzen-ji Soudou (南禅 僧堂 written on one side). It is inscribed on the opposite side with the characters 遺品 (ihin) indicating that the bowl was bequeathed after the passing of the monk who owned it. In addition are the characters 志野 “Shino” 茶碗 “chawan” and 色紙 (“shikishi,” or decorative paper insert in the box detailing the kiln).
This bit of context is interesting as Nanzen-ji Soudou is a place where monks go to do their asthetic training and is associated with the Kuchinashi flower (Gardenia). In buddhism, the smell of Kuchinashi is said to have the ability to overpowers all senses. Therefore, from the moment an asthet enters Nanzen-ji Soudou, all worldly thoughts and attachments are forgotten and replaced only by the aroma of the Kuchinashi flower. On the inside of the box lid are what is assumed to be the name of the bowl and possibly the name of the bowl’s owner. As of this writing they have yet to be deciphered.